Macadamias ripening on the tree.
Macadamias ripening on the tree. Jamie Brown

Change in ownership for large macadamia farms

CHINESE investment group Discovery has taken over ownership of four macadamia farms in Dunoon, near Lismore, adding to its portfolio of Northern Rivers properties.

The four properties were previously part of a macadamia operation run by US-based company Hancock Farms.

Together, they cover 380 hectares and an estimated 100,000 trees.

Significant purchase

Australian Macadamia Society CEO Jolyon Burnett said it was a significant purchase given the average farm size in the Northern Rivers is 10 to 20 hectares.

Mr Burnett said the purchase was unlikely to change the way the industry operates, other than to continue the trend of in-shell macadamia exports.

"The Chinese market was a growing market… we now sell about 25% of the Australian crop as in-shell to China," he said.

"I don't see these sorts of sales as fundamentally changing the way the industry operates but I do see them as a continuation of a trend that was already there.

"I think it's a fair assumption that the new owners of those farms will be supplying the Chinese market with them."

Macadamia farms changing hands

Mr Burnett said in the past 12 months there had been in excess of 70 macadamia farms that had changed hands, a large portion of which were in the Northern Rivers.

"What the increase sale of in-shell exports to China means is that what this industry really needs is investment in new orchards. That's where the real opportunity lies," he said.

"What we desperately need to see is new orchards being planted because demand is really strong and if we don't supply that demand then other countries ultimately will.

"We think the price and the strength of demand in the medium to long term is such that it is a good investment.

More Australian investment needed

"It's a frustration to the AMS that we see so many overseas institutions and organisation prepared to invest in Australia macadamias, but to date we haven't seen the same level of institutional investment in macadamias in Australia."

"It is frustrating to us that we have such a great investment opportunity in our own backyard and overseas investors seem to be able to see the value better than Australian investors."

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